(Look for a top books of 2017 post soon!)
The Lifegiving Table (Sally Clarkson)
While this book was good, it wasn’t as good as I had hoped. There was lots of repeat from podcasts and other books, and lots of anecdotes. But I say that as someone having grown up with family meals around the table and thus know how important they are – so the content wasn’t anything new to me. I was still encouraged that daily mealtimes MATTER, even now, and what a gift to my kids those mealtimes are. Good reminders about the importance of fun and phatic communication. It also helped me see too how refreshing it is for me to be in someone else’s home for a meal and not to take that for granted.
The Hawk & The Dove (Penelope Wilcock)
One of few books I read purely for enjoyment this year, and I intend to read more of the series. I couldn’t figure out what exactly drew me in but the characters and writing style were both so vibrant and I couldn’t wait to pick it up every evening.
Humble Roots (Hannah Anderson)
The summary: I am not God, and when I try to be it leads to lack of rest & burn-out. When I first read this book I thought it was good, but while there were parts that I noted and thought about more, I didn’t connect with it deeply… but then it kept coming back to me again and again.
12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You (Tony Reinke)
Preemptive Love(Jeremy Courtney)
The story behind how Preemptive Love Coalition got started. I couldn’t put this one down. The story is riveting, and it felt like an answer to what was left unanswered in They Say We Are Infidels – what do we do? How is there change? How can we as outsiders help others love their enemies?
The Cup & The Glory (Greg Harris [not the homeschool Greg Harris])
This book would have been better read slowly, but I made a lot of notes to look back over later. I wish I had had it in the midst of PPD; it might have helped me see more clearly what was going on. It’s basically a biblical perspective on suffering, but in a way that felt much more tangible and less dry.
finished The Hidden Smile of God (Piper) with Ezra
This is one of Piper’s biographical books, looking at Bunyan, Brainerd, and Cowper. We were encouraged by all of their lives.
I’m still not entirely sure why I finished this book. It wasn’t bad; I was just never really drawn in and it didn’t hold my attention that well. There were a few profound moments but a lot of it dragged.
The back of the book summarizes it well: “Scripture portrays the dynamics of sanctification in a rich variety of ways. No single factor, truth, or protocol can capture why and how a person is changed into the image of Christ… shows personal and particular ways that God meets you where you are to produce change. He highlights a variety of factors that work together, helping us to avoid sweeping generalizations and pat answers in the search for a key to sanctification.”
His comments on giving “unbalanced” specific counsel and really connecting dots for counselees was very helpful to me, both in my own conversations with people, but also in realizing why some counsel I received for PPD was very helpful and other counsel didn’t help at all.
The God I Love (Joni)
Reviewed more here. It’s fascinating reading biography as an adult with kids, wondering what will greatly impact them and what struggles they will have.
P.G. Wodehouse Anthology (excerpts)
This was my light Thanksgiving read, and very enjoyable.
Different (Nathan & Sally Clarkson)
Good encouragement for loving kids even when they’re hard – even when my kids are not truly ‘different’ they are still very different from me (as I was and definitely as I am now!). Helped me have more compassion to understand their limitations and how they see the world differently, and to give love and affirmation even in difficult moments, remembering their worth goes beyond our expectations and societal norms.
That said, if you had a truly different child I don’t know how helpful it would be beyond encouragement to keep loving them. There wasn’t much I thought was practical in how to help them, and it often felt like they were just putting up with his disorders rather than seeking to help him change (loving your kid no matter what is different than affirming their obsessions, which is often what I felt was happening).
Teaching From Rest (Sarah Mackenzie)
Good overall message – a philosophy of restful schooling, focusing on what matters and not trying to be God, but knowing what to let go of and Who our standard is. It was good now, but probably need it more in midst of homeschooling, than I do right now. I don’t agree with all her theology, but that plays a minor role in the book.
It tied in well with Humble Roots; in some ways it was Humble Roots applied to homeschooling.
Between the Woods and the Water (Patrick Leigh Fermor)
The second part of Fermor’s writings about his journey on foot from Holland to Constantinople. This was mostly Eastern Europe, so fascinating to me as I’ve never been there, but also a little overwhelming because I didn’t have any familiarity with the area and its history.
When Postpartum Packs a Punch (Cowan)
This book was yet another piece in the PPD puzzle. It didn’t give new insights into healing, like I was expecting. Instead, it gave a clearer diagnosis that helped some things fall into place. It gave validity to some of the things I had been feeling, and the sense of sorrow and grief I often feel looking back. It also gave hope to me for if it comes again – reminders of PPD being a where you are not a who you are, and that while it may have spiritual manifestations, it is a treatable disease, and that while it was really bad after Ellie, it could have been way worse.
I felt like Cowan could have fleshed out more on what helps heal/how those things help, but for a book detailing the variety of PMADs (postpartum mood and anxiety disorders) and what those look like, definitely look into When Postpartum Packs a Punch
She is a believer, and talks about “faith” a lot but doesn’t flesh that out much.
Three Years in Afghanistan (Matthew Collins)
Recommended by WORLD Mag in their beach reads issue, this is the story of a family’s time in Afghanistan working with an NGO. It was really fascinating, although his writing style wasn’t my favorite.
The Secret Garden
I know I read this as a child, but couldn’t remember it well, and Ezra’s parents have a beautifully illustrated version that I enjoyed very much.
Spiritual Depression (Martyn Lloyd-Jones)
His sermons on depression, arranged topically by cause, each chapter focusing on a certain passage of scripture and applying that to the cause.
Some of the causes mentioned: high view of self, low view of self (both misunderstanding gospel), regrets from past sin, fear of future, emotions, lack of faith, looking at the waves (focusing on the trials instead of on Christ), false teaching, bondage to sin or the law, weariness in well-doing, discipline, trials, chastening, exercise/difficulties that help us grow, worry, discontent.
It was very useful as a whole, but also in counseling to give someone ONE chapter to read instead of a whole book! Very down-to-earth, no-nonsense, succinct, biblical.
George MacDonald’s Christmas Stories
Found in a box of Christmas books at Ezra’s family’s house. There wasn’t really anything that really stuck out to me, but I enjoyed reading them.
skimmed Educating the Whole-Hearted Child.
Draws a lot from other books by the Clarksons. Overwhelmingly detailed and comprehensive (down to manners and organization), in some ways more of their notes on how they did things. More of a curriculum than a homeschooling philosophy, so to me it came across as somewhat legalistic, but that may just have been because it wasn’t what I was expecting.
Finally finished (read all year)
God’s Prayer Book (Ben Patterson)
I went through the Psalms this year and enjoyed his commentary and the further reflection and prayer this book brought.
Parenting (Paul Tripp)
This book gets repetitive, so it’s not one to read all at once, but we read about a chapter a month this year and found it really, really helpful. It’s not very practical, but it did help me with connecting behaviors to the heart, and having a proper perspective on what my job as a parent is. We highly recommend it.
In the middle of Neptune’s inferno as our current car-read, and Because He Loves Me (Elyse Fitzpatrick) with my sister.
Island Boy (Cooney)
Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs
Meet the Orchestra
Farm Anatomy (Rothman)
The Bee Tree (Polacco)
The Great Gracie Chase (Rylant)
10 Little Fingers, 10 Little Toes
Gingerbread for Liberty
West Coast Wild
The Apple Pie Tree
James Heriot’s Treasury for Children
Fujikawa’s A Child’s Book of Poems
Baby Jesus Prince of Peace Greene
Yoko’s Paper Cranes
Dianna Aston “A Seed is Silent”
Eight Animals on the Town (Susan Middleton Elya)
Christmas in the Barn (Margaret Wise Brown)
How My Parents Learned to Eat
Apt 3 (Keats)
There is a Carrot in My Ear
The Thinks You Can Think (Seuss)
Mrs. Katz and Tush (Polacco)
Ginger and Petunia (Polacco)
Pancakes for Findus (Nordqvist)
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
We also watched Silence, which was very difficult to watch, not so much because of the violence but because of the theological questions it brought up.